Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

LDJ–1859/1880-Part 5 (Section D- pages 12-14)— Painted faith

This continues from the previous Part 4 presenting a new translation of C.F.W. Walther's seminal essay in 1859 (see Part 1 for Table of Contents).  In Part 5, Walther finishes his section 1 (§ 1) with quotes from quotes from other Lutheran fathers, especially Martin Chemnitz, the Second Martin.

Tired "saints" and now "painted faith" – Martin Luther, by faith, could see right to the soul.  Whether it was the papists or the sects, Walther brings out the heart of Luther that held out the Gospel that was outside of us, i.e. objective justification or sola gratia.

Underlining follows Walther's emphasis in original.
Hypertext links have been copiously added for reference to original sources and on several subjects.
Highlighting is mine.
= = = = = = = = = = = =  Section D: Pages 12-14 (1880)  = = = = = = = = = = = =
(cont'd from Section C)
The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification.
[by C.F.W. Walther]
[1880-12] For where this knowledge of Christ has vanished, [Essays1-34] the sun has lost its brilliance, and there is only darkness. Then one no longer understands anything aright and cannot ward off any error or false doctrine of the devil. And even if the Word concerning faith and Christ is retained—as it has remained in the papacy—the heart has no foundation for a single doctrine. Whatever remains there is merely froth, flimsy opinions or illusions, and a painted, tinted faith. They themselves call their faith fides acquisita et informis, that is, a general, lazy, empty thought that does nothing and is worth nothing, unable to resist or to fight when the battle begins and it has to maintain and prove itself. Indeed, by their refusal to tolerate this article concerning the knowledge of Christ and the true faith but by raging against it with excommunication and murder, they actually prove that their boasting of faith and of Christ is altogether false and contrary to the truth.  On the other hand, wherever this Sun shines and illumines the heart, there you will find a sure understanding of all matters. Then one can take and maintain a firm position on [W1859-17]  all articles, as, for example, on the fact that Christ is true man, born of the Virgin Mary, and also true and omnipotent God, born of the Father from eternity, Lord over all angels and creatures. Then one also believes and teaches correctly regarding the Holy Spirit, Baptism, the Sacrament, good works, and the resurrection from the dead. In other words, one proceeds in simple faith, does not split hairs or quibble with God’s Word, does not create arguments or doubts. And if someone assails one doctrine or another, a Christian is able to defend himself [1880-13] against these and to repel the attacks; for he has on his side the true Teacher, the Holy Spirit, who alone reveals this doctrine from heaven and who is given to all those who hear and accept this Word of Christ. Therefore such a person will not let himself be seduced into heresy and error. Even though he strays and stumbles in some place or other, he soon returns to the proper course, provided that he does not fall away from this doctrine. For this light disperses clouds and darkness and will soon direct him properly and restore him. But if he loses this light, he is beyond help. Where this knowledge is gone, it has taken everything with it. Then you might then keep and confess all [the other] articles, as the papists do, there will still be no conviction or true understanding. It is like groping in the dark or like hearing a blind man speak about color, which he has never seen. This is true of the best and the most pious among them. The others, the great majority, must fulfill the words spoken here by Christ. They oppose this doctrine headlong, blaspheme and persecute, excommunicate and murder the true Christians for no other reason than this knowledge. Those who do not have a knowledge of this doctrine, even though they strive earnestly for holiness and piety, become obsessed, blinded, and hardened; yes, they become veritable devils, just as those who do know and believe it become pure children of God.” (Walch W1 VIII, col. 502-506, paragrs. 44-49;  StL Ed. 8, cols. 627-630 , paragrs 44-49; [cf. Am. Ed. 24, 319—22])
Although the more recent teachers of our church did not witness to the importance of the article on justification as intensely [as did Luther], nevertheless the sense of their witness is the same.
For example, Chemnitz, chief author of the Formula of Concord, writes thus: “This article is the pinnacle and chief bulwark of all teaching and of the Christian religion itself; if this is obscured, adulterated, or subverted, it is impossible to retain purity of doctrine in [1880-14] the other articles. On the other hand, if this article is securely retained, all idolatrous ravings, superstitions, and other corruption are thereby destroyed under almost every locus, as the parallel example in 1 Sam. 5:1-4 shows. When the ark of the Lord was set up in the temple of the Philistines beside the idol Dagon, immediately the idol was moved from its position and fell down, and although it was replaced several times, as long as the ark of the Lord stood there, the idol could not stand and was finally completely broken apart.” (Loc. theol., II, 200; 1615 edition, pg 216-  page 216 w/ highlighted section here;  Loci Theologici, 1989 edition, J.A.O. Preus translation - Locus [XIII] Justification, A. Introductory Remarks,  page 443 w/ highlighted section)
Similarly Johann Gerhard also writes: “The highest dignity of this article is intimately linked with its equally great benefit and equally great necessity, because the godly and unfalsified treatment of it 1. accords to Christ His due honor, 2. provides stricken consciences with solid consolation, 3. impregnably fortifies the distinction between [W1859-18] Law and Gospel, 4. awakens the requisite certainty of faith in God-pleasing prayer, 5. inflames the hearts of the saints to earnest zeal for good works.” (Loc. theol., De justificatione, 2)
Balth. Meisner similarly writes: “This article is, as it were, the centrum (center point) of divine theology, toward which everything gravitates, the holy ocean into which everything flows, the ark of faith which preserves everything safe and intact.” (Anthropol., D. 3, disp. 24, p. 139) [Endnote A]
§ 2.
Those are gravely mistaken who think that understanding and teaching the doctrine of justification is a light matter, or even well suppose that they have long since learned this doctrine.
So Luther wrote in 1530 in his interpretation of Psalm 117: Where you hear an unseasoned and immature [1880-15] saint boasting that he knows very well that we must be saved without our works by God’s grace, ...

= = = = = cont'd in next Part 6 = = = = = = = 
     At the end of Walther's section 1 (§ 1) is Endnote A, the first of many endnotes.  The reader is encouraged to follow until later when we reach Walther's own comments in the spiritually rich "Endnotes".
     How can a simple Christian be confident that Luther's Small Catechism will guide him on the true spiritual path?  Because Martin Luther had the right Doctrine of Justification (i.e. LDJ), and so all Christian doctrine from this basis cannot be anything but pure.
     F.C.D. Wyneken, the 2nd President of the old (German) Missouri Synod, testified of Walther's great 1859 essay in his speech to the 1860 convention (see my previous blog post):
I especially regard the past year [1859] as an outstanding and richly blessed year for this reason: because the article of justification was quite properly brought into the arena of our synodical circles.
We see from a personal letter from Wyneken to Walther that this was no small matter to him, for through his famous "depression" he said this:
"I have found in this doctrine [justification] my only stay in the midst of my difficulties."
In the next Part 6...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments only accepted when directly related to the post.